The Henna Witch is the enthralling account of Ashia’s mission to defeat a SORCERER who is invading dreams. How did this fascinating idea start and change as you wrote?
Dreams have long been a fascination for me, lucid dreams and nightmares in particular, as they exhibit such profound power and imagination. I wrote the book while I was in the recovery stages of my last cancer surgery, in which a 2×2” piece of skull was replaced with a 3D printed part. I was having a lot of lucid dreams, even extracting myself from certain death in one of them, so much so that when I woke I wasn’t sure if I’d actually been close to dying.
Two ideas were at play when I started the book and I made an attempt to merge them. The First is that we can live and even die in dreamlands when we sleep, an intriguing concept that I expanded to collective worlds where the creatures of our dreaming imagination are the souls of others. Surely animals dream as well. How many times have I watched my dog ‘run’, even ‘bark’ in his sleep?
Secondly, on a metaphorical level, bad leadership and greed steal the dreams of the populace. The greed of a few supplanting the dreams of many became the subtext.
Because of the multi-dimensional nature of dreams, it was hard to not take advantage of it and there are quite a few larger than life moments because of it. I’m pretty sure many people have done astonishing and magical things in their dreams, where anything is possible. Ashia and O’la also bring an equally dimensional approach to living in the day to day.
I am entirely indebted to my editor in keeping the transitions between dreams and characters comprehensible and helping me arrange the book. It would be far less of a story without her guidance.
Ashia is an intriguing and well-developed character. What was the inspiration for her character and the obstacles she faces?
I wanted to write a story centered around a black shamaness of the jungles facing the power of civilization. She was meant to be a simpler character in the beginning, but the scope of the challenge changed her as well. I initially made my ‘evil sorcerer’ a little too arcane and masterful to justify his powers and her backstory had to match in some way. The dreamscapes demanded attention as well, so she became much older, one of the fabled Muses that live in both worlds. This story grew with the telling, though her motivation from the beginning was always the protection of the animals, her sacred trust. The ability to communicate with animals was also meant to be a central part of the story from the beginning. I think there is a universal wish to be able to understand animals if we but knew their language.
The young girl, O’la, was only to be an introductory foil in an early chapter, but she ended up staying with the story, often stealing the scene. I even had to add my own dog in, a scruffy mutt with Buddha’s soul. He proves to be as powerful and brave in his own way as the panther that guides Ashia, whose journey was far more interesting with them in tow. She could talk to the animals and exhibit great power, but could she manage a twelve-year-old with a stray dog?
I felt the relationship between Ashia and O’la to be one of the most important parts of the book, especially in those moments when the girl’s capacity seemed to outshine Ashia’s own.
I thought that the novel captures the dark feel of age-old fairy tales. What were some themes you wanted to explore with this book?
I’m glad that association to old fairy tales exists. I was totally captivated by Grimm’s Bros., et. al. as a young reader and I know it influenced my later choices in reading material and favored authors. Fairy tales by their nature are very metaphorical. I mentioned a few of the themes above, though at the root of it is Man in conflict with Nature. There is life in every corner and under every rock and perfectly adapted for whatever niche it is in, often astounding creatures that exceed our imaginations. Ashia and O’la became their voices as much as the wizard Kapornic and his Trader enablers were the embodiment of civilization.
Are you still working on ‘Deck of the Numinon’ or do you have other projects in the works?
I’m on the third draft of ‘Deck of the Numinon’, which should be the final one, with subsequent editing. I expect to publish it in early summer of ’20. Like my other books, it has evolved far beyond my original concept. I have truly enjoyed resurrecting the characters of Cerra and the Demon from ‘Demon of the Black Gate’. It wasn’t really planned in the original outline, but it became apparent that I needed a dynamic and equal counter to the magical strength I had given the Deck, a powerful fortune-telling tool. Cerra and the Demon were perfect for the challenge and the story took off from there. I am particularly thrilled with the original artwork by Bluebird Design that will be incorporated into the story and cover. As far as future projects, I don’t have anything solid, just notes building a new tale. I enjoy mysteries and spy novels and want to incorporate some of those elements into the next book. By this time next year, I should be done with a tolerable draft. Working title: ‘The Transparent Mask’.
When an enchanter begins stealing the souls of animals to haunt the dreams of men, Ashia Verena, one of the ageless Guardians, is drawn into a confrontation that resurrects a dangerous secret of her past. A native girl stows away on Ashia’s journey and becomes irrevocably entangled within the nebulous realms of magic and dreams. As the circle tightens, experience and innocence must join in hopes of overcoming the sorcerer’s lust for power and revenge.
Evil is everywhere. The one place we expect to be free of it is in our dreams, but even those are sometimes not free from the grip of terror and the foreboding sense of impending doom. Men and women are waking in cold sweats and glancing about in a feverish daze trying to convince themselves that it was just that–a dream. The most amazing and terrifying part of it all? These men and women cannot free themselves from these larger-than-life nightmares–and they are having identical experiences. Their sleep is no longer safe and their dreams are certainly not their own.
The Henna Witch, by G.J. Scherzinger, is the enthralling account of Ashia Verena’s mission to defeat a sorceress invading dreams and creating a long path of terror among mortals. Ashia, with a massive task in front of her, sets out to do what no other Guardian can. She isn’t alone on her mission, however, and finds herself facing the task of hosting a young girl on a mission all her own.
Scherzinger writes beautifully with vivid imagery and creates details that lead the reader on a fantastic visual journey. What we, as readers, are not able to conjure, Scherzinger lays out masterfully before us. Where some authors of this genre lean toward flowery language, Scherzinger manages to keep his narrative straightforward and simultaneously descriptive and elegant.
As a reader who is more interested in the relationships between characters, I am pleased with Scherzinger’s approach to writing. The Henna Witch is filled with rich dialogue between characters. The author includes dialects that give his characters an added appeal and make it even more likely readers will become lost in the plot.
I have to note that there were times throughout the book that Hansel and Gretel came to mind. For some reason, the imagery conjured by Scherzinger brings about the dark feel of the age old fairy tale–definitely not a bad thing at all for this fan of grim tales.
Yet another plus to The Henna Witch is the length of chapters. Scherzinger keeps his chapters concise and brings each one to a fitting end that urges the reader on to the next. The book is overall a quick read and difficult to put down.
The budding friendship between Ashia and O’la is a precious thing. As their travel ensues, Ashia attempts to be both a mentor and a protector. The two grow closer and Ashia shows O’la how to live off the land and become more in tune with the animals. I enjoyed being able to see Ashia’s thoughts as she observes the fruits of her labor with O’la. Her own desire to not mother her too much is relatable.
The Henna Witch is easily one of the most engaging books in the witchcraft/fantasy genre I have encountered. With a surprisingly relatable cast of characters and an engaging and fascinating plot surrounding the phenomenon of dreams, it will appeal to readers across genres.
Pages: 235 | ASIN: B07MHZQLND
Demon of the Black Gate follows a young girl who is destined to confront a terrifying demon that’s been released. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
The original idea was writing a story from a demon’s point of view, which had fascinated me for a long time. I found myself wondering what Balrog’s story was when I first read the Lord of the Rings fifty years ago and I’m sure that provided a lot of the motivation. The Demon of the Black Gate was initially going to be about the demon, but the character of Cerra hijacked the tale very early on and it became her adventure. Nonetheless, the Demon remains a central and vital component.
As I had fashioned the demon from the elements, it occurred to me that I should fashion the counterpart as a product of the senses. We have extraordinary sensory capabilities that we rarely use to their full potential. I thought that someone who was blind would take the remaining senses more to heart than a normally sighted person. The nature of the simple, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ subplot was the next concession and the character of Cerra, was born.
Depriving my main character of sight was a far harder exercise than I’d anticipated. However, it did what I wanted it to do, focus on the other immediate senses of touch, hearing, and scent. Perception is an amalgam of the available senses, what we do with the sum of the parts, and I tried to take the reader into that realm. Perception became Cerra’s ‘superpower’, the counterbalance to the dynamic fury of the demon.
Cerra begins as seemingly harmless but grows to become a force to be reckoned with. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
At the very first, I placed her with a confidante, a stray like herself that would help her get around. I didn’t get but a page into the chapter when I decided to write out the aide character completely. I realized that I needed to make Cerra stronger and more independent in order to do what the story would likely require of her. Her blindness would not be a crutch. That decided, her character began to grow in bounds. She developed a voice and personality, humor and determination. Characters can end up saying things that change everything! I soon found myself trying to keep up with the story as it unfolded.
In the course of the book, I placed Cerra in some untenable situations and it was her refusal to quit, her ability to rely on her animal companions and her sharp perceptions of the world around her, that kept her going, not I. Not giving her the advantage of sight, allowed me to explore her world in a very different way, even shed light on notions of a metaphysical nature that had nothing to do with magic.
Rovinkar was a character I loved to hate and I found him to be exceptionally well developed. Was his character planned or did he develop organically while writing?
I often start fashioning a character from someone I have met. They become unwitting actors, developing traits and personas as I take a striking feature from their personality and go from there. The wizard grew with the tale. All of my characters do. I needed an Achilles’ heel for Rovikar and it became his impatience and lack of focus, wherein opportunity was far easier to envision than execution. His art needed precision in all things, yet his thoughts would stray to the future leaving the now at risk. I also must confess to using political figures as models in the entitled roles for the motivations of power always run a certain course and are very predictable.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m nearing the completion of the second draft of a book entitled “Deck of the Numinon”. I had envisioned a story based on fortune-telling deck of cards for quite a while. Given the power inherent in the deck, I decided to reprise the roles of Cerra and the Demon rather than create a new protagonist. I confess to enjoying the challenge of writing Cerra’s character and was anxious to allow for a new adventure. I hope that it will be available by Spring of 2020. Time seems to fly, but the book is in very good shape at this point. Of course, my editor has yet to see it.
An elemental demon, created in ancient times by forbidden magic, is summoned as a weapon of war. When the wizard loses control at a crucial moment, the demon is left free to ravage the land. Cerra Meadows, blind since age seven, is fated to confront the demon and becomes instrumental in breaking the spell that created it.
The wizard seeks to regain control of the demon and eliminate Cerra, who must rely on her wits, a faithful black cat, and the ability to see what no one else can.
Rovinkar, the wizard, holds in his hands the key to instigating a war like no other. Cerra, a blind woman living alone in the meadows, knows only what she feels and hears. Their two worlds collide when power goes to Rovinkar’s head and he offers to destroy the Black Gate thereby beginning a string of devastating events. Rovinkar’s offer involves much more than just his expertise, detailed research, and a desire to prove his usefulness–it involves releasing a demon. When the best laid plans go awry, Cerra becomes involved in ways she could never have imagined, and her simple life in the meadows tending herbs will never be the same.
The Demon of the Black Gate, by G.J. Scherzinger, details the devious musings of the wizard Rovinkar and the strength of character shown by Cerra of the Meadows. The author’s two main characters could not be more different–Rovinkar dealing in what amounts to the dark arts and Cerra living her life by touch, sound, and smell. Cerra, a seemingly powerless woman, is the clear heroine in Scherzinger’s tale and stands far above all other characters including Rovinkar.
Fantasies of this type are known for being fraught with flowery language and bigger-than-life characters, but Scherzinger has found and given readers a wonderful balance between the typical fantasy and a down-to-earth read. From the first chapter, the author provides characters who relate to one another as people and in a way readers can appreciate. There is an abundance of friendly banter between characters at the outset of the book that draws readers immediately into the story-line.
Cerra must be the very definition of strength. The peek into her backstory serves to draw readers in and secure their investment in her connection to the plot. It is difficult to imagine another character without her physical limitations who is willing to take on the immense tasks she does. I appreciate the symbolism in Cerra’s position as a healer. Her position later in the story makes it quite clear that she is the epitome of rebuilding and reviving.
Equally as effective are the author’s fantastically fashioned descriptions of the wizard, Rovinkar. As he sets about plotting the release of the demon, one gets a clear picture of the wizard practically rubbing his hands in sheer delight–he is quite the character and one readers will love to hate.
Scherzinger’s fantasy is peppered with humorous and engaging lines that offer a welcome sense of levity within a plot that could otherwise become very dark and foreboding. It goes without saying that Scherzinger gives readers amazing visuals of the surrounding countryside From cover to cover, readers are treated to beautiful descriptions and vivid details. I am much more interested in characters and their development from beginning to end than scenes of action, and Scherzinger does not disappoint in this arena.
Pages: 214 | ASIN: B07XC9B4QT